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Oil prices extend profits after China's stimulus bout

News Date: 1/3/2016 02:20:30
Oil prices recorded their first month of gains in four yesterday, buoyed by a deal between Russian, Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, and Qatar to freeze production at the January levels, while a cut in reserve ratio requirements by China's central bank helped ease some of the concerns around the globe regarding the world's second largest economy and its increasingly worrying outlook.

Brent crude futures gained nearly thirty cents, or 0.75% to trade at $36.86 a barrel, on the verge of touching a two-month high, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures climbed a third of a dollar, or one percent to hover around $34.11 a barrel.

Earlier data on Tuesday painted a negative picture in China and Asian in general, with the manufacturing PMI contracting to 49.0, the seventh straight monthly shrinkage, while the services PMI still grew by 52.7, but by the slowest pace since late 2008. Nonetheless traders hope that these weak data would prompt the central bank into even more easing in the future.

From Australia, building approvals slumped 7.5% in January, much worse than December's 8.6% growth, and compared to analysts' expectations of a 2.9% drop. Australian shares nonetheless rose 0.85%. China's Shanghai index advanced 1.63%, while Japan's Nikkei index edged up 0.37%.

Wall Street closed with considerable losses on Monday, affected by a spate of negative U.S. data , which showed the Chicago PMI, an important measure of America's economic activity, shrinking to 46.7, while similarly, pending home sales tumble 2.5%, to register their smallest pace in a year, with analysts expecting a 0.9% growth.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 123 points, or 0.74% to close at 16,516, while the tech-heavy NASDAQ Composite gave up 32 points, or 0.71% to hover around 4,557. Finally, the Standard and Poor's 500 index dropped 15 points, or 0.81% to end at 1,932.

Investors wait for a wide array of data today, with Britain's manufacturing PMI expected to slow down to 52.3 in February from January's 52.9. A sharp surprise on the downside could knock the pound again to near its multi-year lows.

From the Eurozone, the unemployment rate is forecast to have stayed the same in January as December at 10.4. The European Central Bank is expected to ease policy further in its March meeting, so euro would likely remain under pressure for the near term.

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